Posts Tagged ‘Americans With Disabilities Act’

$50K for Deaf Applicant Denied Interview

Trying to find a reasonable accommodation for a deaf applicant might have saved this employer some angst and money. Not to mention given the applicant a fair chance at the job.

Capstone Logistics LLC, a Norcross, Ga.-based manufacturing and distribution company, will pay $50,000 and provide significant equitable relief to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced April 6.

The EEOC said that after a deaf applicant applied for a warehouse position at Capstone’s Jessup, Md., warehouse, the site manager emailed him to schedule an interview. When the applicant came for the interview, however, the site manager canceled it and said they would reschedule so that human resources and an interpreter could be present.

Capstone never rescheduled the interview. According to the suit, the site manager instead sent him a text message saying, “…we have determined that there is no job that we can offer that would be safe for you….” Capstone never asked the applicant about his ability to perform any of the essential functions of a warehouse position, with or without reasonable accommodation, the EEOC charged.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits disability discrimination. The ADA requires employers to base any direct threat assessments on a reasonable medical judgment using the most current medical knowledge and/or on the best available objective evidence. Employers must also evaluate whether a reasonable accommodation will eliminate or reduce any such safety threat. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Capstone Logistics, LLC, Civil Action No. 1:17-cv-01980) in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the $50,000 in monetary relief to the applicant, the three-year consent decree resolving the suit enjoins Capstone from refusing to hire qualified individuals based on disability, including using unlawful qualification standards that tend to screen out qualified individuals without hearing capabilities. Capstone will also:

  • revise all job descriptions, job postings and job qualifications to remove the physical requirement of hearing capabilities or the ability to hear and disseminate the revised job qualification documents to all individuals involved in the hiring process;
  • post on its job search website that it does not discriminate in hiring and will provide a reasonable accommodation during the hiring process, including to individuals with any hearing impairment;
  • revise its equal employment opportunity policy, and related employee policies, to state that it will not use qualification standards that screen out or tend to screen out individuals without hearing capabilities;
  • further revise its equal employment opportunity policy, and related employee policies, to include procedures for making an individualized direct threat analysis;
  • further revise its equal employment opportunity policy, and related employee policies, to inform applicants that they might be entitled to a reasonable accommodation;
  • provide training on the ADA and Capstone’s revised job qualification documents;
  • report to the EEOC on how it handles any complaints of disability discrimination; and
  • post a notice regarding the settlement.

“This settlement should remind all employers that any safety assessments must be based on objective, factual evidence regarding the individual’s present ability to do the job, and that employers must also determine whether a reasonable accommodation will eliminate or reduce any such risk,” said Jamie R. Williamson, district director of EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office.

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, “We are pleased that Capstone Logistics worked with us to reach an amicable settlement that offers monetary relief to the applicant, and equally important, provides significant and comprehensive policy changes and training that will protect all applicants and employees from disability discrimination.”

According to company information, Capstone Logistics is a leading provider of outsourced supply chain solutions to distribution centers in the grocery, food service, retail and other industries.

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EEOC Secures $55K Settlement for Salvation Army Applicant With Intellectual Disability

The kettle at this Salvation Army rings more justly now for a job applicant who was turned down for employment because of stereotypes about persons with intellectual disabilities.

Global humanitarian organization The Salvation Army will pay $55,000 and provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Tuesday.

According to the EEOC’s suit, The Salvation Army refused to hire Eric Yanusz as a donation attendant, an entry-level position, at its Wasilla, Alaska thrift store. The position required no prior experience and involved accepting and sorting donated clothing, furniture and household goods. Yanusz, who has an intellectual disability, had completed high school and a follow-up job readiness program, finished three internships at medical centers, and held a part-time job at a local church by the time he applied for the attendant position in spring 2014. After a successful first interview, the EEOC found that Salvation Army imposed a highly unusual second interview on Yanusz and ultimately rejected him due to unfounded concerns about his ability to interact with the public.

“I wanted to have a job and make money like everyone else,” said Yanusz. “I felt really good after my interview and thought I got the job.”

His mother, LuAnn Yanusz, added, “Eric was embarking on a new chapter in his life where the focus was on what he could do, rather than on his limitations. It was a big blow for him when he was rejected due to unfounded fears about his disability.”

Failing to hire a person based on disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska at Anchorage (Case No. 3:16-cv-00240-SLG) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. Yanusz was also represented by private counsel, Joanna Cahoon, from Disability Law Center of Alaska in Anchorage.

The three-year consent decree settling the lawsuit provides $55,000 to Yanusz in lost wages and compensatory damages. The decree also requires Salvation Army to train its corps officers and human resources personnel on hiring obligations and assessing reasonable accommodations under the ADA. The Salvation Army will also implement and disseminate a modified ADA policy, and will post a notice for employees about the consent decree and employees’ rights under the ADA.

EEOC attorney May Che said, “The ADA was enacted to ensure that employers evaluate candidates based on individual merit rather than general stereotypes about what people with intellectual disabilities can or cannot do. This settlement helps ensure that all workers have a level playing field and can participate in the workforce to their fullest ability.”

Nancy Sienko, field director for the EEOC’s Seattle Field Office, commented, “We are very pleased with the outcome of this lawsuit. The changes that will be implemented as part of this settlement will go a long way in reaffirming The Salvation Army’s mission.”

Hotel Denied Reasonable Accommodation to Ashmatic Employee, EEOC Alleges in ADA Suit

A California hotel is potentially on the hook for not working with an employee to find a reasonable accommodation for his asthma.

Merritt Hospitality, LLC and HEI Hotels and Resorts LLC, who together operate the Embassy Suites San Diego Bay, a San Diego hotel that has over 300 guest rooms, violated federal law when they denied a reasonable accommodation to an employee with asthma, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed on March 30 and announced yesterday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the employee’s workspace at the hotel was in a room with no windows and no ventilation. These conditions triggered severe respiratory problems, which resulted in the employee being hospitalized overnight. Instead of engaging in the legally required interactive process to determine whether a reasonable accommodation, such as an air conditioning unit or different work space, could be provided, the hotel fired the employee, the EEOC said.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California (EEOC v. Merritt Hospitality, LLC, et al., Case No. (3:18-cv-0654 MMA-AGS) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC’s suit seeks monetary damages for the employee, as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent and correct discrimination.

“The interactive process is at the heart of the ADA,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District, whose jurisdiction includes San Diego County. “A good-faith dialog with an employee enables an employer to identify possible reasonable accommodations and prevents the employer from violating the ADA.”

Christopher Green, director of the EEOC’s San Diego Local Office, added, “Many accommodations for disabilities are low-cost or no-cost, causing little or no disruption to the business. Employers are required to explore such possibilities for good reasons.”

EEOC: Air Service Company Suspended Employee Because of Medical Conditions

Employees that have health battles shouldn’t have to fight for a reasonable accommodation from their employer.

ABM Aviation, Inc., formerly Air Serv Corporation, an aviation industry cleaning and services provider at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Ga., violated federal law when it denied an employee a reasonable accommodation and terminated her employment due to her disabilities, cardiomyopathy and acute myeloid leukemia, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. The EEOC further alleged that ABM discriminated against the employee when it suspended her for absences related to her disabilities.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended. The EEOC filed suit (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. ABM Aviation, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:18-CV-957-SCJ JSA) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The federal agency seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages for the employee, as well as injunctive relief designed to prevent such discrimination in the future.

“ABM recklessly disregarded the federally protected rights of this employee to earn a living and provide for her family given a reasonable accommodation,” said Antonette Sewell, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office. “The EEOC will continue to hold employers accountable for failing to honor anti-discrimination laws if we are to see significant, long-term change in the way society views individuals with disabilities and the value they add to the workforce.”

Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, district director for EEOC’s Atlanta District Office, added, “Supporting the medical needs of their employees to allow reasonable accommodations of disabilities should be a top priority for all employers not just because it is the law, but because it is the right thing to do.”

EEOC: Company Tripped Over ADA in Fitness-for-Duty Tests for Employees With Disabilities

Employers must consider an employee’s individual circumstances in a return-to-work situation and not act on the basis of unfounded assumption.

That’s the message federal law enforcement is seeking to drive home in this lawsuit against a Texas-based company.

Zachry Construction Corporation, a San Antonio-based construction and industrial contractor, violated federal law when it fired several employees whose post-offer medical questionnaires and subsequent medical examinations revealed they had disabilities, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit announced on Feb. 21.  At the time of termination, all these employees were already performing their job duties in a satisfactory manner, the EEOC said.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, in June 2015, Reginald White applied for a Boilermaker I position at the Chevron refinery in Pascagoula, Miss. Around the time he was hired, Zachry required White to complete a medical questionnaire. On Aug. 25, a month after White began work, the company required White to undergo a fitness-for-duty examination. After a brief examination and review of White’s medical information, the examining physician found White unable to perform his job duties, even though he had satisfactorily performed those duties for the past month. Zachry fired White the next day.

Similarly, Zachry terminated two other employees after it learned that they had disabilities, the EEOC said. On May 17, 2016, the company required Jasper Johnson to undergo a fitness-for-duty examination. During the examination, Zachry’s physician learned of a past surgery and lingering neck pain. The company refused to allow Johnson to return to work and fired him.

Further, Zachry hired Parker Isaacson as a skilled laborer on July 6, 2015. Isaacson had undergone surgery on his right shoulder and had multiple right shoulder dislocations post-surgery. On April 4, 2016, the company required Isaacson to undergo a fitness-for-duty examination. During the examination, Zachry’s physician learned of Isaacson’s past surgery and multiple shoulder dislocations. The company refused to allow Isaacson to return to work and then terminated him.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects employees and job applicants from discrimination because of their disabilities. If an employee requires a reasonable accommodation, an employer must engage in a good-faith interactive process with the employee to determine if he or she can perform the essential functions of the job with or without a reasonable accommodation.

The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Zachry Construction Corporation, Case No. 1:18-cv-00058-HSO-JCG) on February 20, 2018 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi after the EEOC’s Birmingham District Office completed an investigation and first attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages, including back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief.

“If an employer has a concern about employee’s ability to perform his or her job duties, it needs to conduct individualized assessments and not make decisions based on assumptions,” said EEOC District Director Delner Franklin-Thomas.

EEOC Regional Attorney Marsha Rucker added, “Treating employees with disabilities fairly is not just common sense, it’s federal law, and the EEOC is proud to enforce it.”

According to the company’s website, Zachry Construction Corporation specializes in large, technically unique projects around the world. Zachry maintains offices in Texas, North Carolina, Colorado and California.

Employer Out $10K in Settlement of ADA Suit Filed by EEOC on Fired Asmathic’s Behalf

All this employer had to do was accommodate an employee’s request for accommodation for his breathing disorders and it would have saved itself $10,000.

InsideUp Inc., a San Diego-based marketing company, will pay $10,500 and provide other significant relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced Feb. 20.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a marketing consultant with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema and asthma requested a reasonable accommodation. The consultant requested to work on the ground floor of an office building without an elevator, so he would not have to walk up and down the stairs with his condition. InsideUp not only refused his request but thereafter fired him due to his disability.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California (EEOC v. InsideUp, Inc., Case No.: 3:17-cv-01961-CAB-JMA) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

As part of the four-year consent decree settling the suit, InsideUp will pay $10,500 to the discrimination victim. In addition to the monetary relief, InsideUp agreed to significant injunctive relief, including, but not limited to, training all its employees; revising its anti-discrimination and retaliation policies and procedures; centrally tracking requests for reasonable accommodations as well as complaints of discrimination and/or retaliation; regularly reporting to the EEOC; and posting a notice about the consent decree and settlement.

“We commend InsideUp for resolving this complaint early and agreeing to put in place measures to help prevent future disability discrimination in its workplace,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District, which includes San Diego County in its jurisdiction. “Small businesses should regularly review their policies and procedures to ensure that they are in compliance with the ADA.”

Christopher Green, director of the EEOC’s San Diego Local Office, added, “It is important that employers appreciate their obligation to engage in the interactive process with, and provide a reasonable accommodation to, their disabled employees.”

EEOC: Oil Refinery Dumped Three Siblings Because They Have Genetic Blood Disorder

Here’s one you don’t see often: Multiple family members being barred from jobs because of an inherited family medical condition.

Signature Industrial Services, LLC (SIS) unlawfully fired three laborers – all of whom were brothers – because of a blood disorder that runs through their family, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed Feb 13.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Drew West and Anthony West had been working at the Exxon / Mobil refinery in Beaumont, Texas when SIS took over a contract to perform mechanical services at the plant. Drew West and Anthony West were hired on SIS’s payroll around December 2011. Both have hemophilia A, a blood disorder that does not impede their performing their jobs, but which requires expensive medicine for treatment should they sustain an on-the-job scrape or injury that causes bleeding.

According to the project manager who was responsible for the SIS workers at the plant, SIS’s president and vice president of operations instructed him to fire the Drew and Anthony West once they learned how the SIS’s insurance costs could spike by having the West brothers on the payroll. Because the West brothers had an excellent work history, as evidenced in part by Anthony West earning a promotion and substantial raise during his employment with SIS, the project manager refused to fire them.

A third West brother, Raymond, who also has hemophilia A, began working for SIS at the Beaumont Exxon/Mobil refinery around January 2013. After the plant manager who refused to fire the West brothers stopped working at the plant in April 2013, SIS upper management advised the West brothers’ immediate supervisor that if he didn’t fire the brothers, SIS would fire him. On July 3, 2013, all three West brothers were advised by their direct supervisor that they were being fired, effective immediately, supposedly due to a reduction in force, although no workers other than the West brothers were laid off on that day.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division (Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-00070) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

The federal agency is seeking a permanent injunction prohibiting Signature Industrial Services from engaging in any future disability discrimination. The EEOC is also seeking back pay on behalf of the West brothers, and compensatory and punitive damages and other relief on their behalf, including rightful- place instatement to a suitable position at SIS.

“When workers have a disability that does not impede them from doing their jobs capably, an employer cannot discriminate against them based on fears that treating them fairly may hurt the company’s bottom line,” said EEOC Houston District Director Rayford O. Irvin.

EEOC Houston District Office Regional Attorney Rudy Sustaita added, “Enforcement of the ADA is a top priority of this agency. Workers should never be mistreated simply because they have a medical history or condition.”